The median price for a single-family home in Santa Cruz County, Calif., remains breathtakingly high: $905,000 in April, according to Gary Gangnes of Real Options Realty, who tracks the numbers.
A year ago, the median price was $830,000.
This is the second month the median — the midpoint of what sold — has exceeded $900,000, Gangnes said. The record high in March was $935,100.
High-end buyers kept the median price in the stratosphere, with million-dollar sales topping 40% for the second straight month.
Of the 157 sales in April, 44% were for more than $1 million.
The average price was $1,077,290, only the second time it has surpassed $1 million, according to Gangnes.
Helping boost that average were two new oceanfront homes in Aptos: A 3,800-square-foot locally designed oceanfront home on Bayview Drive that fetched $4.975 million and a four-year-old contemporary home overlooking Potbelly Beach that sold for $4.495 million.
Santa Cruz appraiser Glenn Fuller said Tuesday that home prices have gone up so much in the last month, he had to redo an appraisal.
A 1,400-square-foot home in Live Oak listed for $849,000 sold for $979,000, he said.
Analysts at the National Association of Realtors had predicted shrinking tax breaks for mortgages that took effect in January and rising mortgage rates would predicted slower home price increases of 1% to 3% and declines in high-cost areas, but that hasn't happened in Santa Cruz County.
As high as these prices are, homes are less expensive here than in Santa Clara County, where the median home price was $1.4 million in April and median compensation at the expanding tech giant Facebook is $240,000 a year.
"I'm shocked every time I look at what's going on over the hill," Fuller said.
In Santa Cruz County, only physicians are paid more, with average wages of $262,000, followed by CEOs, $191,000, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Another key factor is few homes are on the market relative to demand, a trend that started five years ago.
At the rate of current sales, the supply would be depleted in 2.6 months, a metric known as the unsold inventory index, which has been less than normal for 74 consecutive months, pressuring prices upward, according to Gangnes.
As values have risen, there are very few distressed properties where homeowners are not paying the mortgage.
In April, just one home was sold by a bank after foreclosure. The buyer paid $656,000 for a three-bedroom home on Goss Avenue in Santa Cruz "in need of TLC," according to the listing, in other words, tender loving care.
As of the first week in May, there were 404 listings in Santa Cruz County, the lowest for this time of year in 22 years, according to Gangnes.
Only 119 homes have an asking price of less than $1 million.
That kind of competition explains why a 720-square-foot home at 307 Centennial St. four blocks from West Cliff Drive sold in four days for $899,000.
Putting 20% down on a 30-year loan at 4.375% interest would mean a monthly payment of $3,591.
What's available if you can afford to pay half that monthly?
You'd have to look in San Lorenzo Valley.
A 830-square-foot fixer upper — new roof needed — at 947 Madrona Drive in Felton sold in April for $420,000.
If you put 20% down on a 30-year at 4.25% interest, that could mean a monthly payment of $1,653.
Another option is a condo or town home, which tend to be priced lower than single-family homes.
But listings are few — 58 as of the first week in May — and those prices are rising.
The median price for condos and town homes in April was $620,000, down slightly from the record at $634,500 set in January.
A town home sale sets a new value for the others in the complex.
Here are two examples in May.
In Santa Cruz, a 539-square-foot unit at 260 High St. sold for $390,000. Units of that size had sold two years ago for $283,000.
A three-bedroom 1,461-square-foot town home at 118 Bursar Lane near UC Santa Cruz fetched $915,000.
When the 10-year-old development was built, a comparable town home there sold for $585,000.
Tribune Content Agency